ACL Fest: Portugal. The Man made for a great sundown jam — if you could hear them
“Hey, you guys wanna go see The Killers?”
Overheard at Portugal. The Man’s set at Austin City Limits Music Festival on Sunday: People who did not have any patience for Portugal. The Man.
“Just play ‘Feel It Still!’ a teenage boy yelled.
“I only know ‘Feel It Still,'” a woman remarked.
It was a common sentiment. Portugal. The Man were cursed with the one-two punch of a smallish stage and sound issues that made it seem like you were sitting at another stage and thinking, “Oh, I think I can hear Portugal. The Man from here.”
You definitely couldn’t hear it at the HomeAway stage — unless you were close enough. Which we all were, at one point. After hearing how low the volume was, a good portion of the crowd decided their evening was better spent finding a good spot for one of Sunday’s headliners.
After an onscreen message telling the crowd they weren’t good at “stage banter,” the band kicked off their sunset set with Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall,” segued into “Purple Yellow Red and Blue.”
Portugal. The Man is a band that sounds better in an enclosed venue — for example, ACL Live, where they played earlier this year. The band’s super-chill, synth-psych sound doesn’t really equal “festival headliner.” In a more relaxed venue, where you can get a little buzzed on expensive cocktails and bob your head and maybe even singalong to “Got It All,” Portugal. The Man delivers. But to a crowd of sweaty, tired festival-goers, the prospect of spreading out a blanket to camp out for “Mr. Brightside” or “Feel Good Inc.” was worth not hearing a band’s radio hit. To be fair, “Feel It Still” is a certified jam, and was perhaps the song of the (late) summer. But as the crowd walked away to “Hip Hop Kids,” a few dedicated fans were happy to push closer to the stage. The band, quiet still, but grateful — “We love you, Texas,” they said — sounded a little sweeter as the sun went down and Gorillaz took the stage in the distance.